Editorials

A scary mistake in Irving

Irving MacArthur High School student Ahmed Mohamed, 14, at his home in Irving on Tuesday.
Irving MacArthur High School student Ahmed Mohamed, 14, at his home in Irving on Tuesday. Dallas Morning News

Irving police knew right away that MacArthur High School freshman Ahmed Mohamed, 14, did not have a bomb.

If they had thought his homemade electronic gizmo was anything other than a handmade clock, as he said, they would have cleared the area and imploded it.

It didn’t even look like a bomb. Only a box with wires.

Yet they handcuffed and removed Mohamed simply to investigate whether he meant to scare anyone and whether the clock violated Texas’ 1983 law against look-alike bombs.

Bomb threats are a common nuisance in today’s schools. Students and teachers are understandably concerned about safety and classroom disruption.

But it is not illegal to build a clock or wire up a box. Campus officers and city police must be careful not to waste precious time and resources on distractions, and school officials should not overreact.

Knowing it neither was a bomb nor looked up close like one, police still led Mohamed away in handcuffs, and school officials suspended him three days, claiming a violation of the code of conduct.

That’s wrong.

Mohamed has been invited to the White House to show off his clock. Irving officials should give him an apology to take along.

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